Sugar and Spice Salmon and Sustainable Seafood

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Salmon 4

I don’t eat much seafood any more. I know that all those omega-3’s are supposed to be good for your brain, but the conflicting horror stories – of mercury levels and PCB’s, of devastating overfishing and pollutive farming practices, are enough to make me swear off fish forever. The problem is that I actually LIKE fish — I just can’t keep straight the do’s and don’ts of seafood.

Fortunately, there are a few resources I can turn to in times of need. For years, I’ve looked to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program for guidance (though I admit to finding those little cards confusing — I can never remember if the fish has to be trawl caught or net caught). You can look up many different fish on their site to see the environmental and health impacts of eating it. Recently, they’ve made the process even easier by releasing the “Super Green” list — a short (and easy to remember) list of fish that are super healthy and environmentally friendly.

Salmon 1

I’ve also made it easier on myself by shopping for my fish at Whole Foods — they label the country of origin, but also carry several seafood items that are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, which evaluates individual fisheries and certifies them for sustainable practices. So when I see a fish, like this wild Alaskan salmon, which is both on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Super Green list and certified by the MSC, I know I can eat the seafood without guilt. If you don’t live near a Whole Foods and are having a hard time finding a source for sustainable seafood, check out I Love Blue Sea, an online sustainable seafood market.

Salmon 2

And eat it I will – I actually love Wild Alaskan Salmon — it’s more intense than the farmed stuff, with a vibrant pink color and a stronger flavor. Unlike mild white fishes, the oily salmon can stand up to strong flavors. One of my favorite ways to prepare it is to quickly pass the salmon through a mix of aromatic spices that provide both heat and sweet as a counterpoint to the salmon’s richness, then sear it in a hot pan for a few minutes until it’s just cooked and still nearly raw in the center, with the buttery texture of good salmson that you find in the best salmon sushi or cold smoked salmon. Finish it off with some sweet hot mustard and you’ve got the perfect weeknight meal — easy, quick to prepare, delicious, healthy, and good for the earth.

Sugar and Spice Salmon with Hot Sweet Mustard
Serves: 2
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
For the salmon
  • 1 Wild Alaskan Salmon Filet - 8 ounces
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp dried mustard
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cayenne (more cayenne can be added to taste)
For the Sauce
  • ¼ c. Coleman's English mustard
  • 1 T sugar
  1. Remove the skin from the salmon with a sharp knife. Combine the spice mixture until both sides are coated. Heat a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron until it is very hot, and quickly sear the salmon, 2-3 minutes per side. Combine the mustard and sugar to form the sauce, and serve with the salmon
From How to Eat by Nigella Lawson



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